ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Murder defendant George Zimmerman could have defused the deadly confrontation with Trayvon Martin if he would have identified himself as a member of neighborhood watch and he passed two lie detector tests when questioned by investigators, according to a report released Tuesday.
More documents in the second-degree murder case against the 28-year-old were released that included investigators’ accounts of the night of Feb. 26, when Zimmerman killed Martin after following the unarmed teenager through a gated community in Sanford. He has pleaded not guilty and has said from the night of the fight that he feared for his life because Martin was beating him up before Zimmerman grabbed his gun in his holster and shot the 17-year-old.
Sanford detective Christopher Serino said in the report that Zimmerman at first verbally confronted Martin from his car and that the defendant and witnesses said he was too afraid of Martin to get out. Later in the encounter, Zimmerman got out of his SUV and followed Martin.
“His actions are inconsistent of those of a person who has stated he was in fear of another subject,” Serino wrote.
Based on his investigation, Serino recommended a charge of manslaughter to the state attorney but Zimmerman wasn’t charged until more than a month later. Serino has been reassigned to the patrol division by his request, according to a news release from Sanford police on Tuesday.
Another investigator wrote that on the night of the shooting, two computer voice stress tests they gave to Zimmerman indicated he wasn’t lying about what happened.
Zimmerman answered a series of questions by speaking into a microphone that was plugged into a computer. The answers produce a voice pattern on the computer, which are analyzed for truthfulness. It differs from traditional lie detectors, which involve wires or electrodes attached to the person that monitor pulse rates.
Results from either test are usually not admissible in court.
Orlando-based defense attorney Randy McClain said Zimmerman passing the test won’t show up at trial because Florida courts have deemed them unreliable based on a 1923 case. It established that results of scientific tests or procedures are admissible as evidence only when the tests or procedures have gained general acceptance in the particular field to which they belong.
“When it’s released to the public like this it may have effect on respective jurors and create a bias, but at the trial I don’t think it will have any bearing because it hasn’t been found to be admissible,” McClain said.
McClain said he couldn’t recall any criminal cases in Florida where a lie detector result was admitted as evidence.
He did say, though, that the defense would likely try to call attention to the fact that Serino recommended a lesser charge for Zimmerman.
“They’re going to say that he had the opportunity to review all interviews and didn’t recommend second-degree murder,” McClain said. “But the state is going to come back and point out that he did believe charges were appropriate. There will be a lot of back and forth, but at the end of the day I think it will hurt Zimmerman more that he had opportunity to ID himself and disobeyed the advice of the 911 operator and pursued Martin.”
A message left with Zimmerman’s attorney was not immediately returned.
Zimmerman said Martin had been on top of him, slamming his head against the ground and smothering his mouth and nose with his hand and arm. He told investigators he grabbed his gun from a holster on his waist before Martin could get it, and shot the teenager once in the chest. A tape released by his lawyer shows two butterfly bandages on the back of Zimmerman’s head and another on his nose.
Zimmerman claims he shot the teen in self-defense, under Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Martin’s parents have said Zimmerman was the aggressor.
Zimmerman’s original bond was a revoked by a judge who ruled he lied about his finances and he remains in jail awaiting a second bond hearing scheduled for Friday.
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower .